I don’t mean to start this with a headline that is, in part, untrue.
I do get hate. Hate slithers into my email inbox in all sorts of forms — diatribes about people who are gay, about people of a certain faith or political party, about who those are different in myriad ways, those who choose to hunt seals or not to hunt seals, or those who choose to exercise their right to an abortion or physician-assisted death, or even those physicians who perform those services.
The sender, presumably, is on the only true and righteous path.
People have various points of view, which sometimes include condemning or reviling others. That’s what I don’t get.
I don’t get hate — the excessive, extreme, visceral response.
It’s such a high-maintenance, all-consuming emotion. It requires a lot of fuel, a lot of fire. A lot of bile and burning acid; bitterness and venom.
Frustration? Impatience? Annoyance? Ire? Indignation? Yes, I’ve felt and expressed all those. Most people do. But hate? No.
When I’ve written about public concerns with the police investigating themselves, I’ve been accused of hating the police.
When I’ve written about the absurdity and hypocrisy of politics, I’ve been accused of hating Stephen Harper, Donald Trump or “INSERT NAME HERE.”
Write about intolerance, injustice, sexism, homophobia or racism and stand accused of naivete, blindness, liberalism, bleeding-heartedness, man-hatred, pro-terrorism, anti-heteroism, anti-White-ism, and of being a doomed heathen.
Haters look for hatred where it doesn’t exist.
"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
In expressing hatred, do they actually even feel better afterwards? Or is it some ravenous beast that must constantly be fed? Some blazing, smoky, sulfurous furnace that must always be stoked? (Unless they throw themselves onto the pyre).
Someone commits an act of terrorism and claims they’ve done it on behalf of their god. Then, others hate them and anyone else who follows the path of that same god, whether or not that god actually had anything to do with it, or condones or promotes such acts.
Hate begets hate. Religion is too often used as an excuse for heinous acts.
You do something hateful, admit it for what it is. Do it in your own name. It’s not a righteous co-production, no matter how much you might like it to be. You did it because you hate, not because of your god or gods. Perhaps it’s because you hate yourself.
What sort of person blows themselves up amid a crowd of children at a pop concert? You think Allah sent him? Christ? Shiva?
I think he took himself there, motivated by his own extreme ill-will or wilfully blinded by indoctrination; perhaps foolishly believing it would advance some murderous and misguided cause, or win him some sort of spiritual commendation, but no god forced him to do it.
Psychology Today columnist F. Diane Barth took a look at the phenomenon of human cruelty in an article from 2010 in which she discusses some of the psychological theories of hate and hateful acts.
“The British psychoanalyst and author Christopher Bollas says that beneath hatred and hateful behavior lies a profound emptiness,” she writes. “For him rage, anger, and hatred are ways of filling the emptiness. It is, he suggests, better to feel sadistic than not to feel at all.
“Ruth Stein, a New York City psychoanalyst, has written beautifully about terrorists who destroy other people in the name of their god. She feels that they often idealize a supreme being in order to undo their own profound self-hatred. This may also be true in the case of hurt carried out on the basis of religious morality.”
Whatever the root cause of someone’s hate, surely responding in kind solves nothing.
Most times in life, we don’t fight fire with fire, but with something that counteracts fire’s damaging, ravaging effects.
“Haters gonna hate,” is something you hear often said, as if somehow it’s inevitable; undeniable.
Well, it isn’t actually. It’s a choice.
Reprinted with permission from The Telegram, Saint John's, May 27, 2017